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How To Grow and Care for Moonflower Plants – Expert Tips!

The Moonflower, also known as Ipomoea alba, is a plant guaranteed to beautify any place – whether your garden or your indoors.

Staying true to its name, the plant brings out its shine as the moon comes out.

Moonflower is a species of morning glories that are night-blooming.

It is native to tropical and subtropical parts of South and North America, from Argentina down to Mexico’s northern part, West Indies, and Florida.

Moonflowers are usually tightly furled but open up in the shape of a trumpet at night.

They have rich, green leaves that are shaped like a heart. I don’t know about you, but just the description of the plant is enough to make me want to plant it.

 

How To Grow and Care for Moonflower Plants

Moonflower plants thrive in warm weather and mostly die in cold weather. The ideal temperature for it is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It requires well-drained soil with acidic to neutral pH and enough water to keep it moist, but not make it soggy. It requires full sun to bloom fully.

How To Grow and Care for Moonflower Plants

How To Grow and Care for Moonflower Plants

 

 

How To Grow Moonflower Plants

 

Soil

Moonflowers don’t have any strict soil requirements.

However, there are some characteristics that you need to make sure the soil has so you can allow the plant to bloom fully.

Moonflowers can tolerate different types of soils, but I would advise you to grow them in rich, moist, and well-drained soil with a pH range of slightly acidic to neutral.

They grow best in soils that have a pH of 6.0-6.8.

It is best to test your soil by using a soil test kit before you plant it to ensure an ideal environment for your Moonflower to grow.

You can use a soil test kit to accurately check the soil's pH for your moonflower plants to grow well

You can use a soil test kit to accurately check the soil’s pH for your moonflower plants to grow well

 

Light

Moonflowers are used to being in a tropical climate. Although they can adapt to and grow in partial sunlight, total sunlight exposure is ideal.

These plants love the sun. They thrive in the sun, so ensure they are in a place where they receive direct sunlight.

Since moonflower plants thrive in tropical climates, they'll love to grow in areas receiving full sunlight exposure

Since moonflower plants thrive in tropical climates, they’ll love to grow in areas receiving full sunlight exposure

For Moonflowers to bloom in their ideal form fully, they require 6-8 hours minimum of direct sunlight exposure daily.

The warmth and light of the sun help the plant produce thickets of thin green vines, which wrap around anything that comes in their way.

Keeping them somewhere in low light will slow down their growth rate, and the plant will start losing leaves.

But, you’ll also need to protect them from the heat that’s so severe it could end up burning them. When the heat is too intense, provide them with a shade to avoid harm.

 

Watering

It is critical to provide the Moonflower with the right amount of water. You need to water the young plants regularly as the Moonflower seeds require constant moisture while they germinate.

Once the plant grows, they don’t require water as much as younger ones. Yet, it doesn’t automatically equate to them not requiring water at all.

You need to strike a delicate balance between under-watering and over-watering.

Roots decay once the soil has too much moisture in it. So you can say it is better to under water than over water them.

However, keeping them dry for a long time might kill the plant.

I would advise one or two deep waterings every week if the weather is not too dry to prevent dehydration.

The amount should increase in case of dry weather. Moonflower’s growth rate is slower in dry environments.

They require at least 2 inches of water every week whether that is through precipitation or by watering yourself.

One crucial thing you shouldn’t forget is to ensure the soil’s MOIST and not SOGGY.

If all this is too tricky or complicated for you to understand, let me tell you a simple way of figuring out whether you have to water the plant or not.

Stick one of your fingers into the soil to check the moisture.

If the soil is moist under the top inch of soil, your plant is good to go. If not, you already know the next step.

 

Temperature

Moonflower plants flourish in zones 3 to 9 due to the summer heat and humidity. Whereas in zones 10 to 12, they grow as perennials.

As I mentioned before, Moonflowers are tropical plants. So they can resist heat but cannot fight cold as the frost can quickly kill the leaves and stems.

If you live in a cold region, you should wait till the temperature is consistently around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius) before planting them.

If the temperature falls lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), the plant’s growth will slow down, and it may die.

If you live in a warm region, you can plant Moonflowers as they tend to grow quickly in higher temperatures, as long as they are provided with other requirements sufficiently.

 

Humidity

Did I mention they are tropical plants? By now, you know that Moonflowers grow well in a warm environment.

This brings us to the point that Monflowers require high humidity levels.

Although they require high humidity, they can also tolerate dry air as long as they are well-watered.

 

Fertilizer

Fertilizers provide the plant with nutrients to help them grow bigger and faster.

Moonflowers do not require any additional fertilizer. They tend to grow the best in average soil.

But, not fertilizing them isn’t what you should do.

Do you still remember what I’ve discussed about striking a balance with the watering? The same is the case for fertilizing Moonflowers.

If you fertilize the plant too much, you will have limited production of flowers.

So it will just be green and gorgeous vines, but no flowers. 

The nutrients in your soil are enough for the plant to bloom. But, you can mix a little bit of compost to encourage the growth of the vines.

In fact, you will see them blooming more when given some fertilizer. (The keyword here is SOME). If synthetic fertilizers aren’t your thing, you can use organic compost.

Make sure the fertilizer is diluted at half its strength. And avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen composition; otherwise, you know what will happen.

I shall repeat it one last time: Do not over-fertilize them!

 

Propagation

You can easily propagate the Moonflower. It may be challenging initially, but it will work out once you get the hang of it.

  1. You need to get the moonflower seeds and start preparing them. You need to crack open a hard seed pod to get them. The seeds need to be softened up before germinating, so you must nick the seed, soaking it overnight before planting them.
  2. Plant them ¼ inches deep and 6 inches apart to allow air circulation.
  3. Begin seeding indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the frosting. They need to be planted in small peat pots to get the required moist soil throughout.
  4. The seeds will germinate after around a week. Make sure to maintain the 66-84 degrees Fahrenheit (19-29 degrees Celsius) temperature range.
  5. You can transplant them outdoors once they grow a few inches tall. Just be there isn’t a threat of frosting. Be careful not to disturb their roots as they dislike it immensely.

This is if you intend to propagate the plant by seeds. You can also do so by cutting.

 

Growth

Once you have planted the Moonflower, it is time to care for them so they can grow to their full extent.

As long as you follow everything I told you above – from the soil to the watering to the fertilizers – you should be good to go.

Under the right conditions, Moonflowers can grow up to 10 to 20 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide.

They may take around five to six months to bloom after being planted fully.

They are fast-growing vines that bloom from mid-June to mid-September.

 

Potting

I would not suggest potting Moonflowers.

Since moonflower plants grow tall and long, it's not ideal to grow them in pots

Since moonflower plants grow tall and long, it’s not ideal to grow them in pots

It is challenging – I might even say impossible – to provide them with enough support for them in such a small pot. After all, they do grow out pretty tall and long.

 

Common Problems with Moonflower Plants

There is no doubt that Moonflowers are simple to grow. They don’t require much care, and they still end up absolutely beautiful.

But it doesn’t automatically mean they do not come with any problems.

Moonflowers have some common issues, but a gardener can quickly fix them.

 

Black Rot Disease

Moonflowers can easily catch the Black Rot disease. If it does, you will notice yellow lesions on the edges of its leaves.

Black rot disease is a bacterial disease that often comes in humid environments.

It infects the leaves and can lead to the shedding of leaves if not treated. Yet, there’s no need to worry too much. It can be fixed.

The disease usually occurs when there is overcrowding or too much moisture.

You should avoid watering too much to prevent this issue, especially at nighttime. (Remember, over-watering is worse than under-watering!)

You should also ensure adequate space between your Moonflowers to avoid overcrowding.

 

Damping-off Disease

Another disease that the plant falls prey to. Sometimes, Moonflower’s seedlings die out of nowhere.

It may leave you confused as you probably believe that the plant is doing fine.

This disease happens to healthy seedlings as well.

Again, you can prevent this as well. To do so, you should avoid over-watering and overcrowding your seedlings just like you did to prevent the Black rot disease.

This will help the plants get more air circulation and prevent this disease.

As long as the seeds get good air circulation, you do not have anything to worry about.

 

Pest Problems

Like other plants, you will have to deal with pest problems with this plant too.

However, the risk of pest problems is relatively minimal when caring for Moonflowers.

But never zero!

You may struggle with the following pests:

  1. Aphids suck the fluids out of the leaves. You’ll notice a sticky residue that looks like bug droppings. These can be washed away or treated with insecticidal soap.
One common pest that loves to suck out the sap of your Moonflower plants are aphids

One common pest that loves to suck out the sap of your Moonflower plants are aphids

  1. Japanese beetles have metallic green bodies with copper wings. They poke holes in the leaves of Moonflowers. You can use soapy water or take them out yourself.
  2. The naked eye can’t see Spider Mites as they are tiny. But if you see little webs on your Moonflower, those are the doings of Spider Mites! You can simply use water to wash them off or apply insecticidal soap to them.
  3. Leafminers stay under the surface of the leaves. You will notice irregular lines. Unfortunately, all that can be done in this case is to cut off the affected leaf and throw it away.
Leafminers love to stay under your Moonflower plant's leaves, leaving irregular lines as they go

Leafminers love to stay under your Moonflower plant’s leaves, leaving irregular lines as they go

 

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Grow and Care for Moonflower Plants

 

Are Moonflowers toxic?

The plant contains toxic components like alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. Thus every part of Moonflowers is harmful to animals as well as humans.

 

Do Moonflowers only bloom once?

Each flower of the Moonflower plant lasts only one night.

 

Are Moonflowers easy to grow?

The beginning can be not-so-easy as the seeds require more attention and encouragement. But once they are established, I can tell you; there’s no room for any disappointment. They are not too difficult to maintain.

 

What can damage Moonflowers?

As long as you care for Moonflowers properly, there is not much that can damage them. You need to make sure you avoid water logging and give them well-drained soil.

 

Conclusion

Now that you are knowledgeable about Moonflowers and how to grow them, it is about time you go out and add some of them to your garden.

They are an absolute delight to have, and I recommend everyone grow them (as long as you can provide enough care!)

Don’t deprive your garden of these beauties.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.